This is a repost from Claire Fedele’s blog on March 15, 2015. Ever since that day, John has been a part of the Shade family. He lives with one of our teachers and her family and attends a private school. As we look forward, build Shade School, and seek to impact even more children, we thank God for bringing us such special children from the very start.
Today I met John.
Today I met a little seven-year-old boy with the biggest eyes that can gaze directly into your soul and warm you with the most beautiful smile.
Today I met a tiny little ball of energy, sheep herder, and hugger with a laugh that makes your heart instantly fall in love.
Today I met John, although I really shouldn’t have.
You see, he shouldn’t be at the center. He should be at home. He shouldn’t be sleeping two-to-a-bed. He should have his own mat in the village. He shouldn’t be family-less. He should be with his mom.
Yet if you ask him his story, he’ll tell you. He’s from a far-away district. He came here on the bus. And then his mom left, abandoning him at the bus stand. He was on the street until someone brought him to the center.
Now he spends his time in the dirt. He spends his time beating the other children and throwing rocks at chickens. He spends his time refusing to eat porridge and then laying on the floor crying that he’s hungry.
And when it was time for art, he sat down with his slate and tiny piece of chalk and drew a picture of a bus.
He was abandoned on a bus.
And as I sit and look at John drawing, as I patiently guide his little body down into a chair despite repeated attempts to leave, as I lead him by the hand out of the class to sit on the wall for beating another child yet again, as I take away the stolen toy and the collection of rocks from his pocket, as I tell him I still love him and hold his sob-shaking little body, I declare truth into His little life:
You are so loved,
You are so wanted,
You are going to do big things,
You were made to change the world.
And as tears well up in my eyes, I start to think again about stepping into the suffering and the darkness and the pain and declaring the truth. The truth that says John is loved.
And, the truth that says no matter what, God is good.
There is no circumstance that can change this truth; nothing in the world can say otherwise. No amount of hunger. No amount of sickness. No amount of loneliness. Not even death.
For He has conquered it all. And He is utterly and wholly and completely good.
No matter what.
When I see Sipe, eyes red and swollen from crying for days, and all she can say is that she wants her mama, a mama who will never come, our God is good.
When there is no water except for the dirty, salty kind from a distant well, water that makes my little ones sick, our God is good.
When a new girl comes to live at the center, a girl who has half of a face because her lack of pigment has caused skin cancer that has eaten her face away, our God is good.
And when precious little boys get abandoned at bus stands, our God is good.
You see, we don’t have a God who turns His back on suffering and brokenness. We don’t have a God who does nothing, who has no heart. It’s actually the complete opposite. We have a God who has such an enormous heart, that He is able to take all of the suffering and feel it to the very depths of Himself.
This is God’s world. These are God’s children. How much His heart must break. How much He must cry.
My heart is so small. I can only see so much suffering and have it be broken so many times before it’s too much to bear. Before I weep and cry out to the Lord and desire to give all of myself away if only I could love one little hurting child.
And if my heart is so utterly broken, how much more so our God’s. That He could enter into every bit of suffering in this world, take it on Himself, and love. That He could take up every single burden of every single starving child and carry it, feel it.
Our God’s heart is so, so big.
As I sat in the dirt and prayed, I asked Jesus how He did it. How did he leave the beauty of heaven and come into a world full of suffering? How did He walk the streets amidst the poverty, the corruption, the sick, the ones who despised and rejected Him?
I desperately need to know, Jesus, because I don’t know how to do it. I don’t know how live in the midst of so much suffering.
And as I cried out, he answered me.
I did it because I am Love, and what love does is enter into the pain, into the suffering. Love decides to feel it.
In the world today, you can easily avoid suffering. Today’s world is all about comfort and remaining as pain-free as possible.
But what the world must learn is that to love is to enter into the pain, to share in the suffering.
Otherwise, how else can you see a girl with half of a face and declare that she is fearfully and wonderfully made, a beautiful daughter of God?
How else can you hold little Sipe against your chest and declare that she is strong and loved beyond imagination?
How else can you rub the bony little backs of children scattered around the floor, sick from salt-water, and declare that their pain will last only a little while longer, and then they will be with their heavenly Daddy?
And, how else can you sit with little John’s arms wrapped around you tight in fear of yet another abandonment and declare that he is safe, loved, and destined for greatness?
It’s only when you choose to enter into the suffering.
To feel it.
To declare the truth of love that is greater than the suffering.
And choose to love in the midst of it.
I’m crying out, I’m desperate for You
And I’m not afraid to open my heart and give You all
We’ll declare your name Jehovah reigns despite our problems
And through the pain we’ll learn to trust in You.
(“Purge Me” by Urban Doxology)